The First Exodus (1389-1413)
Scheming wily and guily Shah Mir became the founder of the Muslim rule in Kashmir. By encouraging inter-marriages he poisoned and weakened the family life of the Kashmiri Hindus to the advantage of the Muslim minority as this tactics built a reliable and strong base/plinth for the propagation of Islam in Kashmir. By fraudulently getting Kota Rani, Bhatta Bhikshana and Bratta Autar murdered he removed forces of resistance from his way and became instrumental in letting Islam set its root deep in Kashmiri soil. The counselors of Kota Rani did not let her have tit for tat, following their ethos of non-violence, reverence for moral and ethical values.
Terrorised by Tamur the Lame – Syyid Mir Ali Hamdani along with 700 Sayyids, his followers, landed in Kashmir and drove a wide and deep wedge between the majority Hindus and minority Muslims. He dictated the Sultan Qutubud-Din to make the persecution and torture of the KPs a state policy. The code he prescribed for the sultan was a model of hatred, distrust, intolerance, bigotry and malignity against the KPs. He compelled the Sultan to officialise the presecution and massacre of KPs unless they embraced Islam. He is the architect of desecration and demolition of the Kalishree temple near Fatah Kadal in Srinagar and raising on its plinth a mosque known as Khanqah-i-Mulla. With his repressive and precautionary measures backed by state terrorism he achieved the conversion of 37,000 KPs to Islam during the latter two of his three visits. The Sayyids headed by Mir Ali Hamdani openly preached extermination of Hindu religion and Hindu politics from the soil of the Kashmir in order that Islam might flourish and get unshakably entrenched in their place. Following in his father’s footsteps Mir Mohamad Hamdani urged Sultan Slkandar (1389-1413) notoriously known as the iconoclast (Sikandar but-shikan) to wipe out infidelity (Hindus) root and branch, from Kashmir and let not even a weed of it survive. The two reinforced by the rabid neo-convert Malik Saifudin unleashed a massive war against KPs with the target of genocide of this highly cultured people. Sikandar having pawned his soul to the Sayyids threw all norms of civilized Ilfe and tolerance to winds and issued an atrocious and barbaric Government decree ordering the KPs to opt for conversion or exile, flight or death. They let loose the floodgates of a reign of terror on the KPs to pressurize them to embrace Islam. Sikander enjoyed and exulted in breaking down images of Hindu deities. No temple anywhere in the city town or village escaped paying the heavy toll. Numerous Hindus fled, numerous were converted and numerous were brutally killed. Many poisoned themselves. This marks the first ominous exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits from their native fair homes. It is this mass migration that occasioned the plight of KPs to the neighbouring regions of Kishtwar and Bhadarwah via SMITHAN pass and to various provinces of India via Batote (Bhatta wath, path of the Bhattas or Kashmiri Pandits).
In the wake of this damned decree of Sikandar, seven mounds of the sacred thread of the murdered Brahmans were burnt by Sikandar and all of their sacred books were thrown into the Dal Lake. The KPs numbering over one lakh were drowned in the Lake and were burned at a spot in the vicinity of Rainawari in Srinagar City known as Bhatta Mazar (The grave yard of the Bhattas, the KPs) beyond present day Jogilanker. According to the living memory of the KPs only eleven KP families stayed back in Kashmir, the rest, rather than abandoning the religion of their father’s, chose to migrate leaving behind their beloved homes hearths, lands and everything, only to protect their religion and faith.
Jonraj, the contemporary historian draws a graphic picture of the traumatic experiences of the first exodus. Crowds of Hindus ran away in different directions through passes and bypasses. Their social life was totally disrupted, their life became miserable with hunger and fatigue. Many died in the scorching heat. Some disguised as Muslims roamed about the country searching for their distressed families. Hindus lolled out their tongues like dogs, looking for dog’s morsel at every door. (Jonraj: Kings of Kashmir). Then the Sultan exclaimed proudly that he had succeeded in exterminating all traces of Hinduism from the valley by massacring the Hindus, by ravaging, looting and ransacking their properties and more than most by kidnapping and raping there women folk. Jonraj laments the trampling of the Hindu ethos by the Yavanas (Muslims) whom he compares to locusts descending on and destroying a paddy field.
The Second Exodus (1506-1585)
Kashmiri Pandits suffered vicissitudes and misfortune when under the zeal of Islamic fundamentalism the Sultans made it a state under policy to effect forcible conversion and implements it by issuing decrees to sever and chop off limbs of the Pandits, kidnap them, loot their possessions and imprison respectable people on various concocted pretexts so as to pressurize them to change their faith and become the followers of Islam, the religion of the rulers.
There is a general agreement on the point that the Chaks came to Kashmir from the land of Dares of Dartistan of Gilgit-Hunza Region. Ferocious, rugged and wild by nature they possessed great physical powers. When Shah Mir founded the Sultanate in Kashmir he found them the most suitable to be recruited to his armed forces. This brought them into great prominence.
The Chaks belonged to the Shia sect of the Muslims, like all other earlier Muslim rulers they also adopted their policy of conversion by coercion, loot, plunder arson and butchering of Kashmiri Pandits, who as a result of continual religious persecution became considerably reduced in number. There was no let up in religious crusade against them either to force them to get converted or face liquidation.
Kashmir universally known as abode of sufis and saints (Rishiwari) presented scenario of religious harmony, peace and absolute tolerance as long as there was preponderance of Hindu population, be it Saivites, Vaishavites or Buddists. All co-existed amidst amity and maintained very cordial relations and religious intolerance was unknown. This serene and sublime atmosphere was vitiated and poisoned by the emergence of alien Muslim rulers, no matter what class of dynasty they belonged to. The holy land of Kashmir, the cradle of Trika philosophy, the abode of rishis and munis was transformed into an arena of strife and intrigues which very soon saw not only the reversal but also the annihilation of centuries old and precious socio-cultural attainments.
Making a historical evaluation of political and social role of Islam in Kashmir and among various medieval societies, historians have adjudged Muslim ideology as parochial and stereotyped. It is in this ideological framework that, to one’s amazement and shock, loot, arson rape, murder and killing have a religious recognition and sanction.
Firstly all this appears legalized under the umbrella of ‘maliganeem’ . Secondly any social strife leading to disorder and anarchy is permissible getting covered under Jehad (holy war). Thirdly any Muslim intoxicated with religious frenzy and going on a spree of killing without rhyme or reason is saluted as’Majahid’ or ‘Ghazi’ (conqueror or victor).
The Kashmiri Hindu having reached a high level of cultura attainment was found to be a soft target and was thus subjected to the most horrendous tortures and atrocities in the name of service to Islam. A right thinking person wonders whether the message of Islam was bloodshed, plunder, arson and liquidation of followers of other faiths or for spirrtual betterment and exaltation of mankind at large.
Dr. M.L. Kapoor observes that it took Islam almost six centuries to secure a strong foothold in Kashmir. Subsequently with a jet speed it galloped through and within next one hundred years over shadowed Hinduism and claimed a majorty. Quoting Jonaraja Dr. Kapoor writes “As the wine destroys the trees and locusts the paddy crops, so did the Yavanas destroy the usage of Kashmiris and the Kingdom of Kashmir was polluted by evil practices of malechhas.”
While the power of the later Sultan ebbed, the Chaks correspondingly gained supremacy at the court and ultimately succeeded in usurping the throne and establishing their suzerainty over Kashmir. They consolidated their political power through intrigues, conspiracies and murders of political rivals and opponents. They spared no ferocious and barbaric means to seize political power. Though belonging to the Shia sect the Chaks were no less ruthless than the earlier Sunni rulers and showed no sympathetic consideration for the Kashmiri Pandits whose number continued dwindling steadily following the unrelenting onslaughts of the fanatical zealots.
When Fatah Khan (1506-16) proclaimed himself the ruler and ascended the throne under the title of Sultan Fatah Shah, the situation in the valley was depressing and deplorable. He tried bid best to restore normalcy and rule of law and order by curbing the power of nobles but met with no success. Contrarily he ended up in becoming a mere tool in the hands of those who counted in the echelons of power. Foremost among those were the intriguing Shams Chak, and his three trusted friends. Nasrat Raina, Sarhang Raina and Moosa Raina. Moosa Raina succeeded Shamas Chak as the Prime Minister of Sultan Fatah Shah. He was a confident of Shams-ud-Din Iraqi propagator of Islamic faith and converter of non-believers and Sunnis to Shia sect of Islam. Hailing from Talish on the Caspian Sea he played a capital and instrumental role in converting Chaks to Shia sect of Islam. Receiving green signal from Moosa Raina Shams Iraqi opened floodgates of repression, terror and cruelty against the Kashmiri Hindus. Hindu places of worship were demolished only to see the erection of mosques on their foundations. All traces of infidelity and idol worship were replaced by Islamic symbols and the infidels and holy thread bearers of Kashmir were converted to Islam so much so that Shams Iraqi with the help of Moosa Raina was able to convert 24000 Brahmin families to Islam. (Kapoor from ‘Baharistani Shahi’). The two savages terrorized and forced their faith. A model of bigotry and tyranny, Moose mission of humiliating, looting and then murdering those Kashmir Pendits who still clung to their ancient faith besides wiping out residual Hindu temples and schools.
When persecution and religious repression became intolerable and showed indications of being tantamount to ethnic cleansing, some Hindus rallied round the leadership of one Pandit Nirmal Kanth, a respected scholar. They sent a delegation to Prime Minister Moosa Raina to appeal for mercy. Moosa Raina came down with a heavy hand on the members of the delegation. It was breaking their head against the stone wall of cruel Feteh Shah, wolfish Shamas Iraqi and pitiless Moosa Raina. The suppliants were thrown into jail, where unfed they famished and groaned and died of starvation. This forms one of the darkest periods of the black history of Kashmir. Shamas Iraqi’s fanaticism and zealot was unquenchable. His vindictiveness did not get satiated with the massive conversion of Kashmiri Pandits whom he found with suspicion and distrust. He did not spare then even after they had forcibly accepted Islam. He charged the neophytes of clinging to their original faith. He gave free vent to his wrath when he observed them chanting mantra by placing their haunches on the hand written copies of Muslim religious texts and bowing before Hindu idols. Moosa Raina set up camps for forcible circumcision of the neophytes in order to brutalise and deculturise them. Moosa Raina and his gang men would forcibly draw and haul them out of the homes and stuff their mouths with beef so as to stagger and shock them psychologically. This was intended to give them such a shaking that they would not dare retain any Hindu tradition and lest they should be exterminated, snapped their habitual links with the Hindus, their erstwhile brethren.
After Moosa Raina had gone the way of all flesh in 1513 Mohammed Shah (1517) appointed Kazi Chak, again a Shia, as his Prime Minister. Kazi Chak too gave no quarter and no time for recovery to the distressed Kashmiri Pandits. One hound after another thirsty of the blood of the unfortunate Pandits followed in succession. Kazi Chak left no stone unturned inflicting pain and heaping disasters and miseries on the Pandits. He initiated a systematic and planned campaign for the desecration and dismantling of Hindu temples and sacred places. The movable and immovable property of Pandits were looted and ravaged and ruined. It is attributed to him that he used to get 900 KPs beheaded every day for not having accepted Islam as their only mode of faith. Such kind of cruelty was unheard of before.
The Hindus hold cows sacred and revere them. The Chaks ordered that one thousand cows be slaughtered every day to wreck vengeance on the Kashmiri Hindus so as to shock them into accepting Islam. They re-imposed the dreaded punitive tax Jazia on KPs and snapped all means of sustenance from them. The contemporary historian Shukla testifies. “The Hindus were overpowered by the religious intolerance the same way as the sun is overpowered by the gray sable clouds”. A KP wearing the sacred thread had to pay annual tax to the Chak rulers. For the Chaks killing, butchering, mangling and marauding was a common place routine after not worth being taken as a sensation.
During the Chak period the KPs were persecuted, snubbed, humiliated, held low and trampled mercilessly. They had to pay tax even for performing their religious rites and obligations, rituals and customs. To preserve the distinctive traits of their sect and creed the Kashmiri Pandits were bound to pay 40 precious stones to the ruler. The Chak era goes down as black saga in the history of the Kashmiri Pandits. The Chak rulers were cruel and heartless and peerless in devising ever-new methods of inflicting pain and misery to the KPs without the slightest tremor of scruple. Those KPs who somehow escaped getting converted to Islam fled their native places to seek refuge and sustenance at safer places in the neighbourhood of Kashmir Valley. It was a massive exodus in that innumerable KPs left their homes and hearths and marched out of Kashmir. While they were fleeing for their lives, a barrage of spiteful abuse and insolent contumely was let loose on them with the aim of preventing their return to the land of their genesis. Thus the genocide of Kashmir Pandits was designed, engineered and pursued to transmute the basic character of the heritage of Kashmir, change its social religious and cultural identity beyond recognition and reduce this ancient land of Hindu sages and saints to the Muslims ghetto as was conceived by the Sayyid theologians.
When Akbar, the Mughal King, began to make inroad into Kashmir and Yusuf Shah Chalk abjectly surrendered and joined the invading Moghul forces, the rebel Yakub Chak seized the reigns of power in Kashmir. He too initiated his rule with forced conversion of the Pandits, rank communalist as he was. He made the Jama Masjid in Srinagar as the headquarters of his Jehad against the Sunnis and the Pandits. Under his instructions his fanatic Shia zealots committed numerous atrocities on the Pandits, especially on their women folk, including their massacre. He added a new feather to his cap in his Jehad for Islam by hauling up Pandits in their houses and roasting them alive. It was a new cono button to the spread of Islam in Kashmir.
Third Exodus under the Mughals (1585-1753)
Akbar captivated by the idyllic and scenic beauty of the valley of Kashmir visited the place three times. His court poet Maulana Faizee composed a poem to eulogize the beauty of Kashmir. It purposes to say that the dust of Kashmir is like an eye lotion and the grass and herbs are vital medicines for beauty. Faizee depicts the great Mughal’s fascination for the allurement of Kashmir. Akbar initiated many plans and welfare schemes for the people of Kashmir. He attempted to expend his liberal policies to Kashmir. He entrusted the administration of the valley to a subedar.
Akbar launched a comprehensive scheme for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits honourably in their native place. He also became aware of the importance of the role they could play in managing and running the administration of Kashmir. They in fact rose to high places of status and prestige. After about a span of thirty years the KPs again started feeling comfortable and assured of their safety and security. They found the atmosphere favourable enough to practise their faith without any coersion and persecution.
Akbar was admittedly highly tolerant and refrained from falling into the net of fanatic religious zeal. He never resorted to following the policy of persecution and discrimination against the Hindus who had earlier encountered periods of misfortune at the hands of Muslim rulers who made them targets of their religious bigotry and persecution.
On his visit to Kashmir in 1589 Akbar gleaned accounts of stirring and blood boiling plight of the KPs where groaning, being crushed to pulp under the heavy weight of the vexatious extortion’s like the much deplored Jazia (Poll tax), Akbar repealed the black tax along with other taxes and fines imposed by the vicious Chak rulers. Akbar’s decree abolishing them brought a relief and much sought after respite to the KPs. Many KPs who fled to other safer places their lives and honour found conditions in their home Iand quite conductive to their honourable return though shocked to find their homes and hearths looted and plundered by the Muslim zealots during the period of their absence.
Jehangir, Akbar’s son made a departure from the path of religious tolerance and non-interference in other religious affairs. His sectarian predilection and prejudices were clearly pronounced. He shuffled his stances in his dealing with KPs and his inconsistencies were to a large extent responsible for the communal frenzy and rioting to resurface in its full fury. It was during his rule the Kashmiri Pandits were forced to marry their daughters to Moghul officers and Subedars and yet it is an irony that Jehangir is known for his “adal” and love and concern for justice. Seemingly just and equitable in his treatment of the Kashmiri Pandits, he upheld and followed in letter and spirit Islamic practices. This blots and besmears his image of being a tolerant ruler. He disapproved of and opposed matrimonial relations between Hindus and Muslims but declared that while a Hindu was forbidden by law to marry a Muslim woman. Muslim had all the license to marry a Hindu woman.
Jehangir did not lag behind in following the footprints of earlier Muslim fanatics. It was at his behalf that the flight of steps linking the temple of Shankeracharya to the river Jhelum near the temple of Trepur Sundary was dismantled and the smooth chiseled stones thus got were used by Noorjehan to erect the massive mosque at Pather Masjid in down town Srinagar on the west bank of over Jhelum. The Mughal Sardar Itquad Khan, cruel and inhuman as he was, further tarnished and blackened Jehangir’s image that had already been soiled by anti-Hindu pursuits in Kashmir. Itquad Khan forced the Hindus at gun point to get converted to Islam and tortured them by levying taxes on them. As the Shia Chaks had persecuted Sunni Muslims, he persecuted the Shias.
Shah Jehan was a chip of the old block of his father and proved true to him. No less ardent lover and admirer of the natural beauty of Kashmir he did conceal the ugliness in his mind. He did justice to his faith as a Muslim in devoting himself to torturing and persecuting the Kashmin Hindu. He laughed with pleasure when a Muslim mob led and instigated by Kwaja Mam pounced on a prominent Kashmir Hindu Pandit Mahdeo’s house and looted it and set it ablaze.
Shah Jehan did not fall to keep up the iconoclastic heritage of his father and did his bit by desecrating and demolishing a number of temples in Kashmir. Bernier is reliable in his conclusive finding that “the doors and pillars were found in some of the idol temples demolished by Shah Jehan and it is impossible to estimate their value.” Shah Jehan showed his love for gardens by laying out Shalimar, Nishat, Achabal. He also got constructed many mosques, but hardly cared to reconstruct temples, monasteries and libraries of Hindus demolished and destroyed by Islamic zealots preceding him.
Aurengazeb the ‘Puritan King’ whose life is a sharp contrast to that of his predecessors/ancestors lost no time after ascending the throne in Delhi in 1658 to convert whole of India to Islam. To fulfil this desire of his he had no hesitation in using and wielding sword. The fundamentalist emperor thew to winds the seemingly secular policy of his forefathers replacing it by one of religious harassment and persecution. He re-imposed Jazia (poll tax). While the entire lndian people shuddered at his manner of building an Islamic state, he implemented a well calculated plan according to which he started with liquidating Hindu scholars in India in general and the Kashmiri Pandits in particular. Not surprising he did not spare his own father. According to him elimination of Hindu scholars was a pre-requisite for the spread of Islam India.
Since Kashmir has from times immemorial remained a prominent center for learning, Aurangzeb appointed 14 atrocious subedars as administrators and governors of Kashmir for its Islamization. Notable among them was Iftekhar Khan who during his regime (1617-75) unleashed his pack of hounds of cruelties of all sorts to leave the Kashmiri Hindus no alternative but to embrace Islam on pain of death. During his rule of five years of hair raising cruelty and tyranny Iftekhar Khan drove it home to Pandits that then future in their land of birth was assured only if they kissed Islam, failing which they must quit their homeland forthwith; there was no third option.
In consequence of this dire threat thousands of Kashmiri Pandits succumbed to his policy of duress and treacherous religious bigotry of the vicious subeder and thus got converted to Islam. Thousands who could manage to withstand the tremendous pressure bade good bye to their homes and hearths and sought refuge in neighbouring regions to keep alive themselves and their faith that was so dear to them.
It is during the rule of Emperor Shah Jehan and Aurangzeb that Kashmiri Pandits driven out of Kashmir reached Delhi and settled down in Bazar Sitaram. Two prominent castes namely Zutshis and Shangloos reached there after a great struggle, difficulties and hardships. These castes over a period of generations had changed into Pehlvis (poets) and Topawallas, said one of the descendants of KPs living in Bazar Sitaram Shri Gulzar Pahlvi. There is a temple of ancient KPs now internally displaced communities in India believe in. It is said that Pandit Nehru’s marriage procession had come all along from Allahabad to Bazar Sitaram where his marriage was solemnized. Their present priest is Iqbal Krishen Revoo.
It is during the Aurangzeb-Iftekhar Khan combine that reduced the Kashmin Pandits as low as dust, nay they made them lick the dust. They trampled the Pandit psyche by subverting all the achievements of this advanced and learned community in social, economic and religious fields during the pseudo-secular stance of the earlier Mughals. Aurangzeb followed Islamic law with fervor showing no regard for normal laws of Hindus.
When the religious persecution and cruelties perpetrated by Iftekhar Khan and approved by Aurangzeb made life unbearable for Pandits in Kashmir, the latter decided to approach the immortal national hero Shri Guru Teg Bahadur at Anand Sahib for rescuing the Kashmiri Hindus from Islamic onslaught by his personal intervention. A delegation of 500 KPs led by Pandit Kripa Ram learned person, called on the Guru and narrated their harrowing and woeful experiences of the diabolical misrule of Iftikhar Khan patronized by Aurangzeb whose wickedness had no parallel. These fundamentalists thrust Islam by hook or by crook. They converted by atrocities, by polluting the KPs by banning the wearing of sacred thread and tilak, by sexual harassment and forcible abductions of the daughters of Hindus and other satanic misdeeds. The delegations appealed to Guru Teg Bahadur to deliver them from their religion of the land.
The great Saint whose face radiated Cecelia light was painfully moved on hearing the woeful tales narrated by the Kashmir Pandit suppliants. This great man from Punjab went to Delhi for the redressal of the grievances of the KPs and got killed by the cunning Aurangzeb. The Guru was asked to embrace Islam but he preferred death to change his Dharma which was most dear to him. Furious Muslim zealot Aurangzeb ordered the execution of Guru Teg Bahadur. His head was slit by one Jalal-ud-din Jalad (Executioner). In this way the Guru attained martyrdom for the sacred cause of saving Hindu Dharma. Shat Shat Pranam. Guru Maharaja’s sacrifice sent a shiver down the spine of Aurangzeb and it marked the beginning of the fall of Mughal empire in India.
Despite the supreme sacrifice for the preservation of Hindu religion and Kashmiri ethos, the state terrorism remained unabated for sometime more. The desecration of temples and the killings of KPs continued and the process of exodus also continued.
A griping and inspiring and graphic account of this national issue and the unforgettable sacrifice and martyrdom of Guru along with his three disciples has been given by Giani Gian Singh in his book ‘Shri Guru Granth Prakash’ and another book ‘Shri Guru Pratap Suraj’ which are strongly recommended to the readers.
The Fourth Exodus (1753)
Following close on the heels of Faqierullah’s tyrannical and fanatic misrule came his diabolical son Fazal Kanth the Chief Minister whose subedar beheaded Kailash Dhar in broad day light in the open court of the Shia-Muslim Governor Amir Khan Jawansher and gave a contemptuous watery burial in the river Jhelum. Then he went amuck killing and plundering the KPs.This episode so alarmed and panicked the KPs that they felt helpless and desperate. The whole environment became so hostile to them that they fled to Poonch and Kabul for safety and shelter.
Physical torture in the mast ruthless fashion, mental agony, emotional, spiritual anguish fleecing punitive taxes, indignity heaped on the male members of the hapless community. Unchecked harassment and shameless molestation of women folk and more than most the commendable remarkable and unbeaten will to preserve the faith that had been good enough for their forefathers could perhaps have been the reasons that compelled this exquisitely cultured and literate, non-violent and highly tolerant community with rich and radiant heritage to flee the land of their genesis, of their Saints and Sages, of their mature ancestors four times by the time the sixty seven year black and cursed rule of the Afghan butchers in Kashmir expired. The capture of Kashmir by Sikhs marked the deliverance of the KPs from the barbarous Afghan governors.
The Fifth Exodus
Despite having been made victims of repeated humiliations relentless atrocities, a series of reigns of terror, religious fanaticism of the worst type known to the world, conversion by sword and fire, social and economic repression, population decimation and what have you at the hands of savage MusIim rulers for over 500 years, the vibrant and resilient spirit of the KPs despite diminishing numbers, never got dampened or sagged. In spite of deathblows to their culture, ethos and faith they managed to keep alive their centuries old heritage and tradition while they had to pass through fire and water. This microscopic minority recognized and acclaimed and feared as an extra-ordinarily intelligent stock even by the barbaric rulers, both local and alien always maintained a unique cultural attainments and inherent goodness and shunned crookedness even when they served in key postions in the courts of the despotic, bigotic brutal Muslim rulers barren in all human attributes. This nationalistic group preferred to break but did not bend. It did not easily rush into making compromises with the iconoclasts even at the cost of their lives. It was the great Pandit Birbal Dhar whose political maturity and maneuvering paved the path for Maharaja Ranjit Singh to re-establish a Hindu Government in J&K state. Aftar Kashmir slipped from the hands of the Afgans back into those of the Hindus in 1820 the sound of bells restarted emanating from temples that had earlier stood for over four centuries wearing the mantle of mourning, whose ruins spoke volumes in a loud and clear voice of the stones of religions and ethnic fanaticism and intolerance suffered by their builders at the hands of those who hold their faith superior to all other faiths but which deems as sacred and halal, dispossession, loot arson, molestation, rape and slaughter of infidels particularly the Hindus. The Sikh rule ushered in an epoch of peace for all. In some instances the Sikh rulers may be guilty of harshness but they were not cunning, cruel and fanatic religious zealots as their predecessors were. With the passage of time the Sikh rule displaced symptoms of aging and the Dogras seized the golden opportunity to step in and take charge of administration of the combined provinces of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh. It was a glorious period of all round development and reform. It signaled the initiation of the modern history of the state. All the Dogra rulers, though Hindus, believed in and adhered to religious tolerance and harmony. Maharaja Hari Singh, a refined and cultured person, had good will of all his subjects to his credit. Lover of freedom and self-rule he was progressive in his thoughts and deeds.
That the British rulers of India followed the policy of divide and rule is well known to all. To safeguard their entrenched supremacy they went the whole hog in communalising politics and drive such a wide wedge between the Hindus and the Muslims that there could be no meeting point for them. How could they approve of the communal peace and amity the Sikhs and the Dogra rulers had established? Maharaja Hari Singh had to encounter political agitation triggered by the cunning, British from the very inception of his rule. Young Kashmiri Muslims, fresh from the universities of Northern India, particularly AMU, Aligarh where they had met and come under the influence of burgeoning Muslim leaders in India and who were hectically propagating and campaigning for Pan-Islamism, formed an organization for holding frequent meetings. It came to be known as Muslim Reading Room. This crop of new spring literate young Muslims became jealous of well-educated KPs holding comfortable position in the state administration They became frustrated and desperate at their failure to enter Government service and hold responsible and influential and remunerative posts by direct appointments. So they commenced a campaign against what they dubbed the Hindu State. They had the covert backing and blessing of the British India Government chair and the Maharaja had no knowledge of it. His address at the Round Table Conference in London in 1931 as chairman of the chamber of princes convinced the British rule that he was a hard nut to crack by virtue of his being haughty and independent in his ways and, therefore, he could not toe their line nor have any truck with them. The British carved a situation in which stage was set for the desperate educated young Muslims to enact scenes of violent political agitation. And the Muslim press did not lag behind in keeping pace with the agitators. It let loose a fierce and venomous propaganda against the Hindu Maharaja; later on Anglo-Indian press joined hands with its and echoed its refrain.
Sheikh Mohd Abdullah was the most prominent. voluble,eloquent, firebrand activist of the Muslim Reading Room Group. He was all fire in his outbursts against the procedure guidelines of the civil service Recruitment Board for selection and appointment of candidates to higher posts strictly on the basis of merit where the KPs stole a march over their rival aspirants among the Muslims. The Sheikh and his comrades in arms would not take it lying down. After over a hundred years, the KPs unfortunately became an eyesore for the simple fault of their out-shining others with their higher education and technical qualification. The Sheikh minced no words in voicing his resentment against the established system and convened mammoth meeting of Muslims in mosques and made fiery provocative speeches instigating the audience to rise in revolt. Communal tension reached the point of ignition needing just spark to engulf the state in uncontrollable conflagration.
The 13th of July 1931 will go down as a black day in the history of KPs in modern times. On that ominous day the Kashmiri Muslims repeated their history vis-a-vis the KPs.On that Day City of Srinagar and its suburbs witnessed a depressing and demoralizing spectacle of loot, arson and murder of Kashmiri Hindu property and lives. The Bombas and the Khakas had, it seemed. revisited the Valley. On the incitement and directive of the Muslim Reading Room party the Muslim hoodlums made the unfortunate KPs direct target of their wrath, frenzy and madness. The Goondas and the anti-KP Muslims had a hayday. They went berserk everywhere particularly in downtown Srinagar looting KP shops and houses and setting them on fire. The booty they lard their hands on in Zaina Kadal and Maharaj Gunj was distributed. It was in fact, the looters day and the real martyrs were the KPs. Numerous KPs were killed and many wounded. Legend has it that there was a communal orgy at Kanikoot, Tehsil Nagam, Distt, Badgam, a few KMs away from the city of Srinagar. About a dozen houses of the KPs were ransacked, looted and then torched and several KPs were murdered for absolutely no fault on their part. Sheikh Abdhullah in his ever first address to the KPs at Sheetalnath in Srinagar, Is on record having blamed it on the goons for the communal disharmony resulting in loot and murder of the KPs.
A mob of furious Muslims gate crashed into the central Jail in Srinagar to extricate one Qadir, a bearer of a European, who was being tried there for sedition The state police posted there fired on the rowdy mob killing ten agitators. The Muslims crowded and directed their vengeance and vindictiveness against the soft and easy targets, the KPs, who were taken unawares and who had a long history of meeting violence with non-violence as sufferance has been their badge slnce they came into contact with the Muslims in Kashmir. Those responsible for flouting law and order and creating mayhem and glory on a spree of loot and murder were eulogized and glorified as Freedom fighters and exalted as martyrs for the cause of rights of Muslims. They went scotfree and the Maharaja’s administration proved too weak and ineffective to afford protection to the terrorized KPs.
The KPs received no privileges and prerogatives form Dogra rulers. They were not specially favoured community. The Dogra rulers were as strangers to them as to the Kashmiri Muslims. There was no partisan of partial tilt towards the KPs who, like the Ajax rose from their own ashes, regenerated and renewed themselves by hard incessant labour and struggle. Speaking with regard fo all fariness and objectively, the sufferings of the Muslims taken apart during the one hundred and twenty six years of the rule the Sikhs and the Dogras in Kashmir pale into significance and dwindle to nothing when contrasted with the sufferings of the KPs during the five hundred years of the Muslim rule. No Sikh or Dogra ruler employed state power for proslytising Muslims into Sikh or Hindu, for demolishing mosques to raise temples on their plinths and ruins, for torturing and persecuting Muslims for following their faiths, for extorting exorbotant sums of money by way of religious taxes, jazia, baj, zaridood or tax on burying their dead and maintaining their identification marks. No Muslims were tied back to back and put into sacks and consigned to the Dal Lake. No Muslim women were made victims of their carnal lust, debauchery lechery and voluptuousness. No Muslim family had to marry off its young budding daughters in teens or chop off their noses to disfigure their faces and make them repulsive lest they fell prey to the lusty eyes of the rulers and their ministers. And yet the Hindu rulers are denounced as tyrants despots, fanatics and anti-Muslims. It is the pot calling the kettle black.
KPs were equal partners in the quit Kashmir movemen launched against the Dorga rule. As India awoke into freedom in August 1947 from the yoke of British imperialism, Dogra rule too reached the end of its tether soon after. While freedom bells were chiming for the majority community, the unfortunate KPs were in for a grave surprise and shock turning the reveling and jubilation of freedom into a melodrama for them. Pakistan, the new born Islamic theocratic state, clandestinely engineered and launched an aggression on Kashmir by sending armed tribesmen backed up by Pakistan army across the state border on the northern and northwestern side. The religious zealots of Kashmir acted as guides to these hordes of savages from NWFP who behaved even worse than their Afgan ancestors. Besides indulging in wholesale loot and arson they killed numerous KPs at Batapora, Gushi and Tikkar in the present Kupwara district and at various places in the district of Baramulla, Badgam and outskirts of Srinagar.
Tens of thousand of KPs in the Northern, Northwestern and Northeastern Kashmir had to flee their homes and hearths and seek refuge in Srinagar. A good number of them left the state for good, thus setting the stage for the fifth exodus. The local Muslim zealots joined hand with the wild tribals in forcibly converting many KPs to Islam on pain of torture and instant death. And numberless were the Hindu places of worship and Dharamshalas that were reduced to ashes.
The emancipated, the far sighted and those with the sense of the past history of Kashmir since the coming of Muslims and those who were sagacious enough to sense which way the wind was blowing and what trends the future had in its womb lost no time in seeing through the intriguing game plan of what was in essence pan-Islamic fundamentalism raising its ugly head. Mir Waiz Yousf Shah, a grand uncle of Umar Farooq, the present Mirwaiz of Kashmir became cat’s paw for Muslim clergy. At the behest of M.A. Jinnah he corned on in Pakistan a compaign of canard of concocted and alleged tales of persecution of Kashmiri Muslims under Dogra Hindu rule and pioneered the process of infecting the psyche of the Kashmiri Muslims with the ideal of separate quam (nation). Barring in Srinagar and the southern Kashmiri they acted as guides and accomplices of Pakistan army supported Pakistan tribals, in their crusade against the infidels for the glory of Islam by means of murder, rape, loot, arson and conversion by coercion. According to a Reuter’s dispatch in 1947 the mass rape at Baramulle eclipsed the massacre at Rajouri in Jammu province. With a view to grab Kashmir by force Pakistan flauntingly violated Maharaja Hari Singh standstill agreement with India and Pakistan and in a way pushed him to execute the instrument of accession to India. But for the landing of the Indian troops at Srinagar who stalled the advance of the tribals almost at the gates of Srinagar, the gori things would have happened, had they entered the city.
When the popular Government came into existence in free Jammu and Kashmir it started imperceptibly implementing the resolutions of the Reading Room Party. We cannot help making allowance for the occurrence of some pleasant and unpleasant things in the course of transfer of power from one form of Government to another. These are bound to happen. But when the mind of the people at the helm of affairs is warped and deformed by narrow, sectarian, communal, and religious considerations and prejudices one cannot hope for fairness and justice. The newly sprung Muslim Ministers coupled with the bureaucracy and executive of the same creed made the KP officers and official’s targets of their vendetta for being good and loyal employees of the erstwhile rulers. Resorting to compulsion and coercion. they brushed aside all moral restraints in subjecting the KP employees in subordinate positions to injustice and gross unfairness and vexations and whimsical orders. Their rights by way of their seniority, qualification and experience were treated as trifles. They were relegated to second class status and treatment. Was this their dream of Naya Kashmir they had aspired to build in a democratic egalitarian secular framework in unison with the Muslim freedom fighters? Having gauged and scanned the trend of the Government and having been disillusioned and embittered with the gap between its theory and practice, some self respecting KP intellectuals abandoned Srinagar. Notable among these are Dr. R.K. Bhan, Prof. Soom Nath Dhar, Prof. T.N. Raina, Prof, S.N. Koul, Prof. P.N. Dhar Secy to Late Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Veer Vesheswer and others. There are innumerable prominent KP personalities who felt compelled by hostile political and economic circumstances to bid unwilling good bye to their dear native places. They found the climate of the paradise charged with sinister and inauspicious and revengeful mist which would in due course of time drop as brutal hail on the poor KPs leaving them cold, shivering and stunned. People like Sh. R.N. Koul Advocate, (Ex-Registrar Supreme Court of India),Sh. P.N. Koul Karihaloo (Ex-Governor, Reserve Bank of ndia), Sh. Zinda Lal Koul (Charge do affairs), Sh S.N. Bhat (Indian Railways), Sh. J. N. Ganjoo (Secretary, Indian Embassy in USA) who died recently and among others Munshis, Kaws, Saproos. Tengs. Gassis, Thusoos, Wangnoos and so on migrated to better and safer pastures.
The post independence period in J&K state witnessed an unmistakebly slow and steady exodus of the KP community owing mainly to the following prime and significant factors:
(a) Break down of law and order.
(b) Ever dwindling and waning chances for securing government appointments in spite of their requisite merit and qualifications.
(c) Abolition of Zamindari system, which though welcome step in principle, resulted in turning thousands of KP landowners into paupers as no compensation in lieu of loss of their land was granted to them. Nor was any other means of rehabilitating them sought with the inevitable result that they became victims of rural indebtedness.
(d) Discrimination of admission of KP youth to higher educational and technical and professional institutions.
The year 1948 dawned quite ominous forthe KPs. The tribals of NWFP again supported by regular Pakistan army re-raided north Kashmir, this time fromTitwal Karnah-Keran in Kupwara sector. Meeting no resistance of any name the raiders wiped out all KPs staying behind in the region following the earlier raid of the Pakistan army and tribals in 1947 on the heels of the partition. Unfortunately Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation, met his dramatic end in the national capital in the course of his prayers for national reconciliation and emotional integration. Here in Kashmira compaign was let loose to harass and humiliate KPs for alleged allegiance to RSS and those who were thought to be stooges of Maharaja Hari Singh, the then ruler of the state. Distinguished and eminently respectable KPs were summoned time and again to Halqa (Block) National Conference offices for interrogation by members of the Halqa peace Brigade officers. They were subjected to unbearable disgrace, humiliation and even tortured for personal animosity and political vendetta. Not tolerating this insult many people belonging to various social and political groups were disgusted and ran away to escape facing dire consequences. Thus a good number of KPs of repute holding dignity, honour dear to them said good bye to the Valley never to re-enter it. There was obviously no state authority to look to the affairs of law and order. Only the peace brigade constituted at the time of Pakistani aggression ruled the roost and held the supreme sway They enjoyed the full liberty to settle their personal scores.
A noted historian and political associate and co-worker of Sheikh Mohmmed Abdullah. P.N. Bazaz records that “those who dared to oppose National Conference were treated as ‘Pariah’ dogs They were arrested in thousands, their hands tied with ropes behind their backs and dragged like animals through the main bazars of Srinagar and other towns”. The former Prime Minister Shri R.C. Kak was taken from a subjail to the High Court on foot with his hands tied with rope made of dry paddy hay and enroute Muslim, National Conference workers pelted stones, cast dirt and rubbish on him and even spat at him. And in the courtroom the N.C. activists manhandled him doing him physical violence while the judge looked on helplessly and dumbly.
Now the soil was propitious for Sheikh Modmmed Abdullah to transform into reality his cherished dream that had been lurking in his mind since the Reading Room Forum days. ZAMIN KISSAN KI. In 1950 an act called “The J&K landed Estates Abolition Act of 2007 (1950) vide Act No: XVII of 2007” was passed. It purported the abolition of big landed estates and their transfer to the actual tillers. This act came into force with immediate effect without any consideration for payment of compensation to the landowners dispossessed of their land. The landowners could retain 182 canals of land with no tenancy rights. According to the provision of the Act, the landowner would get 1/4 th of the yield of 182 canals but no share of the hay. Sheikh Sahib’s dream came true when he rapturously witnessed the KP irreparably hit by his land reform program. With one hit below the belt he gloated quietly at the thought that KPs had been sent sprawling with no chance to recover and fight back. Reduced to the state of paupers the aggrieved KPs knocked at the doors of justice but in vain.
The land reform blitz that turned the tables out of justifiable proportion on the former land lords and changed social relationships and traditions so suddenly generated enough heat in the dispossessed land lord community to which KP community was no exception.
To the tenants, predominantly Muslims, the Act came as a boon and blessing and they received it with jubilation and revelry. On the landlords, mostly Hindus, it fell like a guillotine. They protested and cried hoarse against the unfair and partisan and jaundiced deal given to them. The game plan of the Sheikh was clearly seen through. The cardinal objective of the Act was to deprive the landlords of their rights as proprietors and help the tenants at the cost of the former. The judicious approach ought to have been made to find a path to secure fair play and justice to both the classes. The Act, it became clear, was remotely motivated by such consideration and indicated antagonistic and hostile approaches only to see that KPs were reduced to penury. The Act was sheerly based against the Hindu community in particular and heavily tilting in favour of the tillers, thus making one class poor and the other suddenly rich. The Act was categorically against the spirit and the interest of natural justice according to the bereft and distressed landowners. The writer has personally been witness to the spectacle of so many KP Chakdars starving and living below poverty line. Deprived of all means of sustenance for their families and livestock they distributed their starving cows among their well off neighbours and bewailed their destiny.
Chances for appointment and promotions were blocked, by taking into employment undesirable and incompetent persons from the majority community ignoring the deserving and qualified and technically trained hands. It became a state policy to ignore KPs in matters of appointment and give first preference and priority to take a Muslim applicant or to wait till one became eligible or available.
A KP teacher with a good deal of service to his credit was made subordinate to his Muslim taught who was upgraded and promoted to be his Head Master. Here is an instance on how the administration of education was deliberately and crudely maligned. Once all aspirants to the post of headmaster were called for an interview and the venue was the open lawns of the palace on the bank of the Jhelum. Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs their number ran into hundreds. Sheikh Sahib, the then Prime Minister and incharge of education, was in a fix what he should do. He hit upon a plan. He asked them to fall in two rows – one of those tall in size and the other comparatively short or medium. This having been done he had a look around and looked still indecisive and confused since both the rows consisted of both Hindus and Muslims. Ultimately utilizing his sweet whim of absolute power, he resorted to absolute corrupt practice of pick and choose by pointing his finger, like Hitler, on tall Muslim aspirants, like Mr Abdul Ahad, Mr. Kak and others singling out about 100 teachers from the lot ignoring veteran teachers like Sh. Gangadhar Dhar, Sh. Sham Lal Madan, Sh Raghunath Kaul, Sh Keshov Nath Veshin and so many others. This naturally entailed a breaking of hearts and genuine grievance of unjustified unwarranted and brazenly unrestrained open discrimination against the KPs. The realization that Kashmir is not a place for the future of their children nor for their posterity began to gain ground and later events confirmed it so that it turned into a conviction deeply rooted in the treatment meted to KPs in every sphere of life in Kashmir and they started turning their gaze beyond the borders of the state to find sustenance to their survival. They were snubbed and subjected to various indignities and deprived of avenues and opportunities to display what mettle they are made of. Thus started an imperceptible exodus of KPs for pastures elsewhere.
The state Government, controlled, regulated and steered by the National Conference passed new laws designed to protect the interest of the majority community. One of these was the Agrarian reform law brought into abolish tenancy farming. All land that was cultivated by tenants was taken away from the landlords and transferred to the tenants. It was a welcome step in socialistic sense. But the axe fell on the KPs in the Valley as the new law made them suddenly paupers and deprived them of source of their income and livelihood. Many of them who were solely dependent on land turned into paupers. Since the bulk of the landlords affected by the Agrarian reform were the KPs, the reform as a tremendous success. It was along cherished desire of the ruling National Conference to snatch away the land. The money that was to be paid to them for their land barely added to a fraction of a year’s income from it and in any case, it was to be paid at some future date not specified. Decades have passed since the KPs lost their ancestral fields. They have still not received the money. The compensation case is still pending resolution. No attempt was eves made to rehabilitate the ex-owners of the land.
As it all this were not sufficient Caesar appeared in the form of a ghost. Mr Ghulam Mohd. Sadiq, said to be a liberal, emancipated, progressive and secular person passed, as state Education Minister in Bakhshi Ghulam Mohd. Ministry an impugned order/circular that only 30 percent seats at the maximum be allowed to the KP boys seeking admission to academic colleges for higher education, not to talk of admission to professional institutes. What tale hangs thereby is obvious. And it was allowed to take effect when the state followed the declared policy/program of free education to all up to postgraduate level. In order to curtail and curb and demoralize the brilliant KP youth from obtaining admission in academic and professional colleges in the state various impediments and hurdles were put up in the form of admission committees, selection boards and boards for categorizing and classifying the admission seekers. The tacit purpose was to dissuade and deprive them of all possible opportunities for progress and advancement. How ironical it is that the son of Muslim Chief Secretary was deemed and acknowledged as backward while his Jamadar-Ramjoo’s son was declared forward and not entitled to the award of the backward certificate! The resultant mood among the KPs was naturally underlined by preference for life and death some where else to economic strangulation and deprivation in the so called Naya Kashmir where communal prejudice and discrimination had become order of the day under the patronage of rulers known for secular credentials. There were writ petitions of scores of KP teachers and admission seekers in the Apex Court of the country and the state High Court for redressal of their genuine grievances and injustice meted out to them on the basis of belonging to the KP community. The powers that be minced no words in telling them that India is a vast country and KPs could go upto Raskumari (Cape Comorin). Where will the poor Muslims go? This was the import of the discourse of no less a person than late Sheikh Mohmmed Abdullah with a deputation of the KPs that called on him to give vent to their protest. We believed him to a majestic edifice sheltering us all. The signal was loud and clear – the KPs had better pack up and get scattered over the rest of India, it would be of no avail to them to stay back. Sheikh Sahib’s words made it abundantly clear what his motives were.
The agitation by the Muslims following the disappearance of the holy relic at Dargah Hazratbal in 1964 and the KP agitation following the conversion of an underage KP girl Parmeshwari to Islam was a severe setback to the existing KP social fabric. It aggravated the process of exodus of KPs that was going on quietly un-cared for by the so-called nationalists.
While concluding the era from 1931 to the end of 1985 I find it quite pertinent to quote here a few significant excerpts from the book “History of Kashmiri Pandits” by justice Jia Lal Kilam, also known as Sher-e-Babbar Kilam. He terminates his history at the point of time of the conversion of Muslim Conference to National Conference. Why he did so is intriguing and worth probing. He writes “But here we stop. What followed is matter of recent history in which the present writer has also played his humble part. It would indeed be embarrassing for the present writer to discuss facts that form a quite recent history”.
A person of Kilam Sahib’s status and caliber and with his rich and varied store of information and personal experience on the subject should not have chosen to cut it short and apply the break abruptly to bring the history of the sufferings of the tormented community and the events having bearing on life after the conversion of the Muslim Conference into National Conference to a grinding halt. It should be apparent that there could not be any justification to abandon the narrative kept alive by his compelling historical impulse to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity. He ought not to have left the community in the lurch by leaving the story untold. Obviously there must have been more compelling and urgent considerations – political, social and last but not the least personal, that must have constrained the roaring lion of the KP community to become tame and quiet. Is not discretion the better part of valour?
The Sixth Exodus
The mastermind behind the planning and architect of Shah Masjid within the premises of an ancient temple inside the New Civil Secretariat area at Jammu was Mr. Gul Shah ‘Padsha’ and his brigade of hoodlums and hooligans (sirwallas), after he had snatched political power from his estranged brother-in-law Dr. Farooq Abdullah. Gul Shah held the reigns of power as Chief Minister for a spell of twenty months. His regime was the worst ever in the post independence history of the state. Every Kashmiri, even every child who had attained age of consciousness then, will testify that Kashmir saw maximum number of curfew days during Shah Sahib’s mis-rule. He earned the appellation ‘Gul Curfew’ not unjustifiably and undeservedly. Chaos and confusion held its sway all over. Law and order suffered a complete break down. Anarchy spread its tentacles in political, social and economic area. Corruption was rampant.
The valiant people of Jammu did not take Shah Sahib’s heroic deed lying down. They poured out into the streets. There were demonstrations and protest marches throughout Jammu against this avowedly Islamic act of the CM in a secular state. Shah was not only haughty but also unpredictable and deeply vindictive. Accompanied by some of his trusted Muslim officers and bureaucrats like Sheikh Gulam Rasool, the former chief secretary, who could boast of brave exploits of having evicted some KPs from EP Quarters, Gulshah entered Srinagar on 20th February, 1986 and provoked the Muslims to communalise the situation in Kashmir in view of what had happened in Jammu and deliberately raised the boggy of ‘Islam Khatre Mein Hai’ (Islam is in danger) and excited and raked his Lushkar (Brigade) known as Lushkari Gulshah Padshah among the local people into a violent and bloody stance end then directed them towards Kashmiri Pandits for no fault of theirs. At his behest they went on a unleashed spree of desecrating their temples and places of worship and shrines, torching their cowsheds and molesting their womenfolk. This time it was in south Kashmir that had in the post-independence time remained untouched by the loot arson, murder, molestation and rapes by the tribal invaders with the active support of Pakistan in league with its stooges in Kashmir. They had not suffered the ordeal and trauma that the KPs in Baramulla district had passed through in the wake of partition in 1947. The then Congress (I) President, Mufti Mond. Syed, the former Union Home Minister, patronized a member of his clan Qazi Nissar, a crude and confirmed fundamentalist and theologian to spearhead the movement against the KPs in Southern Kashmir where the latter commanded a vast influence and audience. This provided the hawk like Farooq Abdullah a golden opportunity to go for fishing in the troubled waters. The anti-KP tirade of repression spread like wild fire. The main targets were their temples to what was a lightning operation temples at Vanpoh, Lukbhawan, Anantnag, Salar, Fatehpur, Akoora and so many places in South Kashmir and those in and around Sopore in north Kashmir the birth place of Jamaite Islami leader, Ali Shah Gillani were rampaged, demolished and leveled to ground and destroyed in fire. It was like Sultan Slkandar the iconoclast (butshikan) having been recalled to life. Putting the pieces together it is very easy to discover that it was a planned design of the pseudo secularists and the Muslim fundamentalists with Qazi Nissar in the vanguard hatched not only to destroy the property of the KPs but also it bred a fear psychosis in their mind so as to facilitate and precipitate their early flight from the Valley. It was the shadow of the coming events. It did cause a tremor in the KP psyche and many a sagacious person was wakeful enough to read the writing on the wall and take time by the forelock. Not a tear was shed by the then Government of the State or the Central Government. The light that Mahatma Gandhi had sighted in Kashmir was beginning to fade. The KPs were frightened and armed by the psychological onslaught by the forces inimical to India on the patriotic community of the KPs. The episode of 1986, in fact, made two things crystal clear:
- Kashmir is for Kashmiri Musalman only. Islam can exist and flourish there and there is no place or scope for any other religion or it followers to co-exist in Kashmir.
- The slogan of secularism with reference to Kashmir in particular is a farce and a facade rendered hollow and a hoax by the passage of time and the behaviour of the State and Central Governments viz. Kashmir secularism as a concept and way of life had become cold and dead and lay buried deep in the same Kashmir where, during the bloody days proceeding and following the partition of India, the Father of the Nation, Bapu had seen a ray of hope of survival of communal amity and harmony; It turned out to be a myopic sight. The myth had got exploded with a bang, whether they heard it in India or not. They heard it in deed, but they paid no heed or were indifferent or did not care about it, since it touched neither their skin nor their heart. It touched them no where at all.
The Indian intelligentsia and leadership of all hues and labels remained mute spectators. The mass media looked the other way. The Indian Army and security forces stationed in the Valley could not come to the rescue and succour of the unhinged and terrorized KPs. The State administration gloated and laughed up its sleeve at their plight and anguish. It was at this juncture that the KP lost his forth and trust in both the State and the Central administration. Both betrayed his faith and turned out to be pusillanimous in the extreme. The very soul of India was gasping for breath; the very corner stone of India’s composite cultural tradition was dislodged; the backbone of Indian polity was broken; the spirit of the constitution of India was hacked. It appeared that the State Administration and the anti-KP and anti-national elements were in league with each other for the former did nothing to assuage the emotional pain caused by the communal violence. The KP looked at the situation in a historical perspective and its analysis left him in no doubt that it formed a link in the chain of persecution of KPs at the hands of the Muslims. Those who were not complacent and doubted the effectiveness of the Indian polity took the cue and planned their quiet exit from the Valley where the latter-day Chengezes and Tartars in the form of Gulla Shahs, Farooqs, Syed Mir Qassims, Qazi Nissars etc. with their inherited convert’s blood and zeal were there to carry on their tradition in a modern drafty manner. Thousand of KPs saw no redeeming feature in the way things were shaping and found no option but to make preparation or rather be in a state of preparedness for deserting their motherland physically and mentally. The truth is that numerous families disposed of their immovable property and left the valley for good.
The Seventh and Final Exodus
The wounds inflicted on the Kashmiri Hindus in the 1986 disturbances were not allowed to heal. Looking back now the episode looks like a mild arm twisting of the State administration and that of the so-called mighty India to gauge their real might and will-power to deal with recurrence of such disturbing situations. The unexpected speed with which anti-India and anti-Kashmiri Hindu designs, the seeds of which read been sown over the years, began to unfold themselves was the most terrifying thing about it. The madrasas financed and run by the Jamait-e-Islami had poisoned the mind of the younger generation with Islamic fundamentalism under dictation from the theocratic Pakistan. The Jamaite-Islami activists had crept into the services at a large scale. They had found their way even into the top rung of the State machinery and also influenced and won the members of the bureaucracy that crossed over to their side. So for all practical purposes the State bureaucracy was hand in glove with pro-Pak elements and forces that had most sinister plans up their sleeves.
Though Dr. Farooq Abdullah saddled himself in power by allegedly rigged elections in 1987, the power had, as a matter of fact, slipped from his hands. The Muslim United Front, a new fangled Muslim outfit owing political allegiance to Pakistan did not take its defeat at the busting lying down and vowed to get its own back. A monster with virulent fangs was harnessing itself for the charge. The Government headed by the nincompoop chief minister was too inefficient to crush the monster raising its horrible head. Law and order machinery that had developed cracks became steadily defunct. Farooq Abdullah openly admitted having sent numerous Kashmiri Muslim youth to Pak for training in arms. He released about seventy of them soon after they had been arrested. It is clear that armed insurgency and subversive activities were receiving state patronage and protection.